I recall standing in the doorway with my mouth open, looking at the manual typewriters on the desks. Am I in the wrong place? Then Dr. William Dulaney gestured for me to enter. Walking briskly on the balls of his feet, Dr. Dulaney proudly displayed the new journalism classroom.
It was 1983, and we were in the bottom floor of the Humanities Building at the then-College of the Virgin Islands. Gannett Company, which owned The Virgin Islands Daily News, had given CVI a Gannett Foundation grant to start a journalism program. Dr. Dulaney, a visiting journalism professor from Penn State University School of Journalism, had come to the Virgin Islands to start the program. His enthusiasm was contagious. Cut and paste back then literally meant just that. We used scissors to cut the text and rearrange paragraphs as we edited our news stories, and we scotch taped the paragraphs into place.
Dr. Samuel Adams, Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Kansas, who replaced Dr. Dulaney, was more modern. He insisted that we convert the CVI Post into a tabloid, which we did. I recall him cautioning me about the difference between a news reporter and an editor. He explained that the editor decides which stories are printed in the newspaper, where they are placed, and how they are displayed. The reporter’s name may appear above the story, but the editor has the power, he advised.
The first four CVI journalism students were Melvin Claxton, Alison Hector, Glenville Bart and me. While he was a senior, Melvin won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for a series of articles he wrote for The Daily News on public housing. Melvin, the only one of us to stick with journalism, went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and other prestigious journalism awards.
To refresh my recollection of CVI, I went hunting for copies of the CVI Post. Photos of the amazing calypso shows we used to have jumped out at me. CVI entered some of the best calypsonians in the St. Thomas Carnival competition. Remember J.B. the Emperor (Jonathan Bass), Yemisi (Patricia Cottle), Smutty, Cllero (Claudette Hassell), Ras I, Fatman, and Changa the Radical (Wayne Adams)?
|Joycelyn Hewlett at 1986 CVI graduation|
The articles in the CVI Post also reminded me how much we complained about and reamed the administration. In an article entitled “Richards Blows a Spoil,” Melvin took Dr. Arthur Richards, CVI’s president, to task for a plan to place a red, non-drying stain on the balcony and walls of the Harvey Student Center to catch intruders. “Let’s put the ill-conceived red stain idea behind us and make a positive move to solve this urgent problem,” he wrote.
We also made fun of everything. In a letter to the editor titled “One Day in the Cafeteria,” an anonymous writer complained about the cafeteria worker’s sour countenance, the powdery mash potatoes and meatless meat loaf. He said that as he stood in the lunch line one day, he asked a cafeteria worker what would be served for dinner. The response: “food.” “I could hardly contain my elation,” he wrote. “I turned to the guy next in line to me. ‘They are actually going to serve food for dinner.’ His eyes widened visibly. ‘They must have changed the management!’”
Joycelyn Hewlett worked as a news reporter and features editor for The Virgin Islands Daily News from 1985-89. She currently works as an attorney on St. Thomas.